Have you seen the post making rounds on FB? It says,
“Don’t call your pastor “Pas.” 1. It’s Unbiblical and 2. It’s Unprofessional.”
Pastor is a socially and culturally constructed word that means something different today than it did in the Bible times. In no place in the Bible are we commanded to call someone a “pastor.” In no place in the Bible in the role of pastor a professional role. (And while we’re at it let’s get rid of the notion that “the pastor is the highest calling.”)
Grammatically, “Pas” is a diminutive that is a term of endearment. It is actually more meaningful than the term “Pastor” (when used as a title). It implies a close relationship between the person and the pastor, a relationship where a spiritual leader has the ability to speak into the life of the parishioner.
Calling is much more complex than “some are pastors and the rest are not.” The Bible tells us that all walks of life, all activities, and all people are able to minister to the glory of God.
So if you are a pastor and someone calls you “Pas” accept it as the sign of love that it is — and be sure to love that person back!
Ok ba kung tawagang ko ang Pastor ko ng “Pas”?
Nakita mo na ba ang nashare na FB post ng ganito?
“Don’t call your pastor “Pas.” 1. It’s Unbiblical and 2. It’s Unprofessional.”
1. Wala kang makitang talata sa Bible kung saan may utos na dapat tawagan nating mga pastor na “pastor.”
2. Wala ka ring makitang talata sa Bible kung saan may sinabi na ang mga pastor ay “professional.”
Saan kaya galing ang mga ideya nito? Sa tingin ko ito’y nagmula sa kasabihang “The pastor is the highest calling.” Ang problema ay wala din ito sa Bibliya. Sa totoo lang, malalim ang konsepto ng pag-tawag o “calling” sa Bibliya. Ayon sa Bibliya, mahalaga sa paniningin ng Diyos ang lahat ng uri ng trabaho, lahat ng bahagi ng buhay, at lahat ng tao. Lahat ito’y pwedeng gamitin sa papupuri sa Panginoon.
Bukod dito, ang paggamit ng salitang “Pas” ay isang term ng pagmamahal na ginagamit ito upang ipakita na may pagmamamahal ang isang tao sa kanyang espiritwal na lider.
Kaya’t kung ikaw ay pastor at may tumawag sa iyo na “Pas” tanggapin mo na lang ito bilang tanda ng pag-ibig nila sa yo – at siguraduhing mong mahalin ang taong iyon!
People often said when I was younger that I lived in a dream world — and that was true. I did spend a lot of time dreaming of an imaginary world. It is strange, however, that daydreams are often thought of as being a trivial waste of time. “It’s better,” they say, “to live in the real world.” What is also interesting is that we often think of nightmares as dangerous We worry about nightmares. We try to stop nightmares. We even make movies about them that frighten us into even more nightmares!
In reality, we should really spend more time concentrating on daydreams. Nightmares, after all, only last for a few brief moments. It’s the dreams that we have while awake that are truly dangerous because we can dream them for a lifetime, and in the end make them come true.
As TE Lawrence says,
“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
Here are my daydreams:
I dream of a world where the rule and leadership of Jesus makes the world a better place. A place where the poor hear good news, where prisoners are made free, where the blind can see, where the oppressed are set free, and where the Lord looks with favour on all people.
I dream of a world where the values of the world are the values of God’s kingdom.
I dream of a world where we love each other like we love ourselves. This is best expressed by the Tagalog word kapwa, or “shared being.”
I dream of a world where the truths we shape is the Truth that is revealed to everyone by God, applied to our own cultural and local contexts.
It is easy to dream such dreams. It is harder to make these dreams come true. But as the old saying goes, “Begin with the end is sight.”
As pastors we need to be self motivated. After all there is no one who is looking over our shoulders, is there? There is no bundy clock to keep track of our hours. There is no one instructing us on the things we should teach or preach about (unless it’s the book of Revelation). There is no one checking in on us making sure that everything is ok.
Sometimes pastoral ministry seems a rather solitary existence, where we are expected to do the majority of a church’s ministry, where we are expected to haver everything figured out, where we are expected to be strong in the middle of a hard world.
But together with this expectation of doing the ministry, it often also feels as if there are many people looking over our shoulders:
People want to talk to the pastor when the call the church.
People want the pastor to visit them.
People want the pastor’s preaching to be good.
People want their cars/motorcycles/houses/jeepneys/businesses/atbp to be blessed.
People want you to attend their birthday parties.
People want you to be available at any time, day or night.
Apart from this we need to make sure our families are well taken care of.
It’s impossible really. No one can do all of this and survive. There are so many voices vying for our attention as pastors that it takes skill and ability to navigate all of this.
One of the problems is the popular idea of the solitary pastor leading his flock closer to Jesus. Fortunately this idea has been challenged of late. Hal Puttick illustrated it somewhat like this,
“Pastoring is like solo paddling. We train pastors to paddle their own canoe. We then load them up with a huge amount of cargo and expect them to be able to paddle it to the destination. From time to time they may get close to other pastors who are also paddling alone but what ends up happening is that one paddler tries to transfer some of his load to another paddler (who is already overloaded themself). What we need to do is to develop leadership teams.”
In the theological world, people like Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost and their various co-authors have been advocating for a more APEST-type ministry model for several years. APEST comes from Ephesians 4:11 that speaks of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers. I have seen a couple of restatements of the APEST idea that help us better understand what Ephesians 4 is saying.
There is this tweet from @lukejohnson2191 that restates the 5-fold ministries as things each person would say:
Then there is the restatement from Frost & Hirsch themselves that restates the 5-fold ministries using terms that may have less theological baggage:
But this APEST idea is not an excuse to just sit back and let things happen. Rather it is a call to both work hard at what your speciality is and to develop at team of people who can work together to meet the needs of the church as a whole.
But what if you are solo paddling? What can you do?
1. Make decisions on what you will prioritise and what you won’t. Not everyone will be happy with you but you might survive the journey.
2. Help train others to join you in your canoe. After all, if we want things to change we need to start changing them.
3. Keep working hard. Be self motivated. Don’t forget your calling to serve God in whatever circumstances.
Engaging society is sometimes like pouring coffee into a series of cups stacked on top of each other. Even though the coffee will sometimes spill over onto the floor, some of it will make it to its intended place. How can I, as a pastor, help make sure that the “coffee” ends up in the right place? How can I keep the from spilling the coffee?
I have written about how my friend Dwayne Harms helped shape my belief that I am the pastor of more than my church; I am also the pastor of my community. That has shaped my engagement on the internet as well. My internet experience pre-dates social media! In the days before Web 2.0 I enjoyed engaging others on email lists. But the downside of all of that fun has been that for years I have struggled to find balance on how to engage on the internet.
Now at this point I do need to give a shout out to my mother who exemplifies what it means to be a justice warrior. She has never shied away from personally intervening in situations that are unjust. She is a good model! I get my sense of justice and injustice from her.
Carey Nieuwhof’s latest post on “How to Pastor a Mob” gives some good advice. I should point out that the “mob” Nieuwhof is referring to is primarily the vast, unknown world of the internet — the world that focusses on hot topics and the latest crazes and proceeds largely like a bull in a china shop. Of course sometimes the world of the mob collides with the worlds that I live in. This is what makes things more difficult.
One thing I have done is to unfollow (or unfriend) when reading posts that consistently cause stress. That has made my online experience more enjoyable. I guess my fear is that I may become someone who others want to unfollow/unfriend! How do I avoid that?
Here are a couple of points Carey makes that I found helpful:
“So what do you? How do you respond? The line I’ve tried to follow, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, is to be what I hope to see. In other words, if you hope to see people behaving reasonably, be reasonable.”
This, of course, is easier said than done! Sometimes I don’t want to be reasonable. Sometimes I don’t want to be calm, cool, and collected. But I will tell you one thing, my day goes better when I do respond in a reasonable way.
So how to do it? I sometimes write down my desired reply and read it over before carefully deleting it. I then try to write a more reasonable response. Often it takes prayer and even a day’s thought before the proper response comes to mind.
Of course, those of you who know me and who may follow me on social media know that my response is unfortunately not always this measured.
“There are also times I’ve tried to win over irate people online. I find I can’t. I can usually diffuse a situation in real life. On the internet? Almost a 0% success rate. So I no longer try. I’ve also tried to discuss things online with people who have extreme and public views on subjects. Trying to change their minds is like trying to move a 10 ton block of steel with your baby finger. Not only does the steel not budge, you now have a broken finger. The best way to react to angry, extreme views is to be what you hope to see.”
This is perhaps harder than the first issue I talked about because as a pastor one of my roles is what is called marturia, or truth telling. It is very hard for me to see some untruths without seeking to correct the errors that I see. There are two problems with this. First, it would be impossible for me to be able to correct all the errors out there, which means I need to learn which errors I am going to focus on. The second problem is even harder because it means that I need to recognise that the error may often be from my end.
And that’s the real issue isn’t it? Sometimes I am a part of the mob.
What issues confront you as you seek to pastor your community (that sometimes may be a mob)? In what areas are you also a part of the mob?
Sometimes we are disappointed with the political leaders we have trusted. We suddenly discover that they don’t entirely embody the values we thought they did. People lauded Justin Trudeau when he first got elected Prime Minister of Canada but then the SNC-Lavalin affair, Aga Khan, and WE charity scandals came out and we realised that he was not all that different from other politicians. Or take the the whole Democrat-Republican divide in the USA. Regardless of where a party is on the political spectrum there are still a variety of issues that face leaders of all stripes that are more nationalistic rather than political, ala this tweet by Mark Charles:
I have been reflecting on a video I saw a few weeks ago from the Bible Project on Daniel. We just finished a study in Daniel where there is a series of visions that feature animals. Some animals have small horns and others large horns, representing presumably their varying levels of animal nature. These themes continue on in Revelation as well. One idea they had that has stuck with me until today is that governments tend to be animals and the only way that these beastly governments are defeated is by the “lamb who was slain.” Note that the difference between “wild animal” and “lamb” is significant.
It got me thinking about the “mark of the animal” and I wondered if having the mark on your forehead and right hand is in essence having faith in government as gospel rather than Jesus as gospel? The gospel genre in the Bible is, after all, a political genre developed by the Roman Emperors to show how great they were. Ratzinger, in his Jesus of Nazareth, pgs. 46-47, has this to say about “gospel:”
“This term figures in the vocabulary of the Roman emperors, who understood themselves as lords, saviors, & redeemers of the world…. The idea was that what comes from the emperor is a saving message … a changing of the world for the better.
“When the Evangelists adopt this word … what they mean to tell us is this: What the emperors, who pretend to be gods, illegitimately claim, really occurs here – a message endowed with plenary authority, a message that is not just talk but reality…. the Gospel is not just informative speech, but performative speech – not just the imparting of information, but action, efficacious power that enters into the world to save & transform.
“Mark speaks of the ‘Gospel of God,’ the point being that it is not the emperors who can save the world, but God. And it is here that God’s word, which is at once word & deed, appears; it is here that what the emperors merely assert, but cannot actually perform, truly takes place. For here it is the real Lord of the world – the Living God – who goes into action.
“The core of the Gospel is this: The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
This is why Mark begins his account of Jesus’ life with “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God.” Another place we see this is in Mark’s account of Jesus temptation in the wilderness:
“At once the Spirit brought him into the desert, where he was tempted by Satan for 40 days. He was there with the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.”
If Pope Benedict is right and Mark chose to call his account a “gospel” based upon the political meaning of the word, then it is not unreasonable for him to use the terms “animals” in the context of Jesus’ temptation.
If the gospel is performative and not just informative, how can I daily perform Jesus as gospel in a world where most place their trust in wild animals?
If the gospel is performative and not just informative, how can I daily perform Jesus as gospel in a world where most place their trust in wild animals?
A good start in performing the gospel is to focus on four areas: Kerygma, Koinonia, Diakonia, and Marturia. In other words, we should focus on proclaiming Jesus as Lord of the Universe, on developing the values of Jesus’ Kingdom, on serving God & serving others, and on bearing witness to the Truth.
A good start in performing the gospel is to focus on on proclaiming Jesus as Lord of the Universe, on developing the values of Jesus’ Kingdom, on serving God & serving others, and on bearing witness to the Truth.
Many times during the pandemic, especially when church gatherings are being restricted, people resisting restrictions quote Hebrews 10:25, that reads, “Do not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing,” as a defense that church gatherings should not be restricted.
An initial appropriate counter to this argument is Matthew 18:20, that reads, “Where two or three are gathered, there am I in their midst.” This is the only verse in the Bible that sets a number to the assembly. While this verse does apply a number to the concept of gathering, it does lead to several questions. What if you are alone? Does that mean that God isn’t “in your midst”? Not at all. The Bible also has examples of God meeting people who are alone, including Hagar in the desert (Genesis 21), Jacob at Bethel (Genesis 28), Moses in the desert (Exodus 3:1-4:17) and on the mountain (Deuteronomy 34), and Elijah in the wilderness (1 Kings 19).
It does raise the question however of what exactly the gathering is. Has gathering always been the same? Is there a mandated “biblical gathering model” that can be universally applied to all settings and situations? Can the Bible help us in understanding what exactly gathering is?
What follows is my rather lengthy attempt to answer these questions. I approach it from the perspective of how the Bible conceptualises religious or holy space. I will then talk a little bit about some post-biblical historical conceptualisations of the same. For those who have neither time nor desire to read such a long approach, here is the TL;DR version: Both the Bible and church history describe multiple examples of religious or holy space, some good and some bad, none of which are prescribed for us today.
The Worship of God and Holy Space.
One important aspect of understanding church gathered and scattered is to look at how people in the past have used space to meet God. Perhaps the strongest resistance to change is seen in the simple statement, “We haven’t done it that way before.” It implies that our own experience represents the whole of knowledge. This of course isn’t true but does lead us to ask how this relates to issues of church gathered and church scattered? How does history prove or disprove what we have or have not done before? Holy spaces have changed over the course of the history of the world. As described in the Bible, we see varying forms of what holy space is, depending on the situation or the time.
Positive examples of Holy Space.
There is a wide variety of positive holy spaces in the Bible. These are places where people approach God through means the Bible approves of.
Garden of Eden. At the very beginning of the Bible, sacred space was in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived. God would come down in the cool of the day, and they would talk together. So, there was direct conversation with God in this holy space, in this sacred space of the garden, which represented the entire world. And so, there is no need to have any special place where that would happen. In the age of innocence, the space and the time were the same. The cool of the day in the space of the Garden of Eden, God would talk to his people.
Sacrifices and Altars. As humans became slaves to sin, we see that there was a new way of interacting with God, we see the story of Cain and Abel, and were they brought “offerings” to the LORD. And so, it seems that these sacrifices were offerings of the produce of the land, whether it was flora or fauna, to God. It would appear that at this point there’s some kind of burning involved. These happened on altars, but it wasn’t simply the use of an altar, it seems that there is also the proper use of an altar because God accepts Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s. This implies that is seems to be more than simply the place where the offering is given – there seems to be some kind of an attitude that gets developed through the offering of sacrifice. Prior to the flood, the process of “offering” isn’t clearly explained, but after the flood we are introduced to the word “altar” and this word is used 338 times in the Old Testament. As the story progresses, you see these sacrifices happen on altars as the key ways that humans interact with God. In fact, The Bible tells us that only some of the animals came to Noah’s ark two-by-two. The rest came in sevens – and these were the clean animals that Noah and his family would subsequently use in sacrifices and offerings after they were saved. Abraham interacted with God through altars. Wherever he and his descendants Isaac and Jacob went they would set up an altar to God. That makes altars a kind of a very specific religious space.
“You are standing on holy ground.” Moses is in the wilderness herding sheep, he sees a burning bush that isn’t consumed by fire. When he approaches, God says to him, “Take your sandals off because you’re standing on his holy ground.” Perhaps this is reminiscent of the Garden of Eden where the ground the earth and everything God created was holy. This event, however, appears to be a one off – there are no further accounts of encountering God at burning bushes.
The Land of Goshen.When the children of Israel first arrive in Egypt, they are given the Land of Goshen, which becomes their religious space (Genesis 46:3-4; 47:27). Eventually during the Egyptian captivity, the people call out to God and God hears their voice, and he answers their plea for help. And he comes down and frees them from the land of slavery, and brings them into the land of promise. And while they’re on the journey, they go to several other holy spaces.
Holy Mountains.Mountains are also key religious spaces in the Bible. There’s Mount Sinai, also known as Mount Horeb, which is a holy space. Moses had several encounters with God on this mountain including the burning bush and receiving the decalogue. It was on Mount Carmel that Elijah and the people of Israel had their encounter with Yahweh and the prophets of Baal were defeated. The ultimate example of a holy mountain is talked about in both the story of Abraham and the story of Jesus. Richardson (2005) notes that Moriah, the mountain where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac, as the same mountain where both Solomon’s Temple was constructed and where Jesus was crucified.Mount Zion is also a key mountain especially with regard to God’s kingdom extending to all peoples of the earth. Mount Zion is in many ways a virtual space, sometimes identified with Jerusalem, sometimes with heaven, and sometimes with the place where God encounters the nations.
The Tabernacle.The tabernacle is a portable holy space that the children of Israel carry with them wherever they go. Within this holy space we see a variety of spaces each with a reducing number of authorized users. In addition to the tent spaces there was also a special place between the cherubim on top of the ark of the convent. This was called the mercy seat and was where there was an interaction where people were reconciled to God, through the blood of the sacrifice.
The Temple.The Temple was the permanent dwelling place for God, planned by David and built by Solomon on the Temple Mount. And this, this becomes a place of connection between the Jewish people and God. There were in fact a series of temples, each rebuilt after the destruction of the previous temple. There were also a series of tools and implements that were used inside the Temple.
Jesus and Holy Space. Jesus does some of his teaching in the temple, but he also teaches in other holy spaces. He preaches on a mountain, he preaches in people’s homes, and he teaches in a new place called the synagogue. Eventually Jesus returns to heaven. The people of God continue to worship in the temple, they gather in the temple for prayer, even as they live in community together outside of the Temple. Ultimately the Romans attack and the temple is destroyed so that it is no longer a place of worship for Jews nor for Christians.
Synagogue and ekklesia.The Jews focus their space on synagogues, and Christians focus their space on the church. Synagogues appear to be gatherings of God followers, in small communities, that are apparently spread throughout the Roman world. The diaspora of Jews throughout the Roman world meant that they couldn’t bring the temple with them so, the synagogue is created as a way for them to connect to God in an appropriate way. In many ways churches are the same. Both of these terms mean basically the same thing in Greek, it’s just that there is this agreed upon idea that Jews call their gathering a space “synagogue” and Christians call theirs a “church,” but in Greek the meaning for both words is essentially the same. Related to church and synagogue are “The Church that meets in their home.”
Negative examples of Holy Space.
We also need to point out some other religious spaces that are not good examples. There are times where people seek God through means that the Bible disapproves of.
The Tower of Babel. The Tower of Babel introduces a different kind of sacred space, one that wants to usurp God’s position as the ruler of the universe, almost as if to say if the tower is built then humans be able to reach to the heavens, the dwelling place of God, and then become like God. Even God himself says, “What can these people not do?” So, then he talks about messing with their language, and that’s where the different languages come out.
Under every spreading tree and on every hilltop.Even though the people of Israel had the tabernacle as a center for worship, we discover that the people are constantly trying to create their own holy spaces for themselves. “Under every spreading tree, and on every high Hill” becomes a way to describe holy spaces where people worship God in inappropriate ways. We also see Gideon and Micah and the idols that they set up, complete with Levites to oversee the proper use of worship.
Jeroboam’s Golden Calves.Jeroboam sets up two golden calves in Israel, after Israel seceded from Judah during Rehoboam’s reign. Jeroboam doesn’t want to maintain any connection with worship at Jerusalem because that would undermine his authority. Ultimately two events happen to destroy this second holy place: Assyria comes and carries the 10 tribes off into permanent captivity and Josiah destroys the two calves.
Historical Religious Spaces.
Now we move on from biblical understandings of holy space and move into other historical expressions of the same.
Christendom. The time of Constantine saw a change in Christian religious space. Whereas before the church was in a largely persecuted state and had to hide out in places such as the catacombs in Rome, now the church experienced official sanction. This allowed for the construction of church buildings, perhaps the most famous of which is the Hagia Sophia. Throughout this time the church transitioned from a group that met in homes to what we have today where churches largely meet in specially constructed facilities called churches. This has resulted in a theology where our worship is largely centered on a building; we’re used to “going to church.” In the Philippine context, you have churches that were also built as a kind of fortress, to protect the priests and members from harm.
The persecuted church. Christendom is not always the norm for how churches gather. There are vast areas of the Christian world where Jesus’ followers are not allowed to gather. In Iran, for example, you have Christians who have never met with another Christians because of the danger of doing so. If they haven’t experienced any sense of corporate worship at all does that mean they’re not church? Does that mean not a part of the family of God? No, it doesn’t mean that at all.
A theology of Church Scattered.
We have seen that from the beginning of time that people have been able to approach God in a wide variety of ways – there is no universal system for doing so. That directly addresses present-day concerns about churches have to forego face-to-face gatherings because of the pandemic. We need to develop an alternative theology of church that will assist us in moving forward into the new normal. We will begin with defining the concept of church and then move into a discussion of the functions that the church is designed to perform.
 Some see this verse as applying only to situations of church discipline. However, I would argue that the proximity of the word ekklesia in the surrounding verses also allows its application to other church activities as well. What is interesting is that at least one church that is opposed to the restrictions bases their argument partially on the fact that they need to practice church discipline.
 This story is found in Genesis 2-3.
 Genesis 4:3-16.
 It should be pointed out that there are no clear reasons given in the biblical account for why Abel’s offering was accepted while Cain’s was not.
 Richardson says, “Where was Golgotha—The Place of the Skull—located? Just outside the wall of Jerusalem and within, at the most, 1,600 meters of the tip of Mount Moriah. King Solomon, centuries earlier, had erected the first Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah, probably to commemorate the exact spot where Abraham stretched Isaac upon that pile of wood (see Gen. 22:1-19). It was there that Yahweh placed Himself under oath to fulfill both lines of the Abrahamic Covenant” (p. 147).
 See 1 Kings 8:1-2; 2 Chronicles 5:2.
 See Hebrews 12:22-23; Revelation 14:1.
 See Psalm 9:11; Isaiah 2:3, 14:32; Micah 4:2.
 References to churches meeting in homes can be found in Acts 1:13; Romans 16:3,5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15.
 This story can be found in Genesis 11:1-9.
 References to these places can be found in passages such as Deuteronomy 12:1–4; 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 16:2-4, 20, 17:10; Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 2:20, 3:2, 17:2.
My study, conducted as part of my time in the UP Tri College PhD Philippine Studies program, examined how Filipino men understand and express religiosity (maka-Diyos) and masculinity (pagkalalaki) and how these two concepts inform our understanding of religious change (pagbabalik-loob). Central to this research is how the dynamics between pagkalalaki and maka-Diyos is mediated by factors such as family status, gender, class, national advocacy, religious congregation, age, chronotope; and how these, as a whole, shape the lives of Filipino men.
I used a Bakhtinian dialogic framework mediated through Walls’ transmission and appropriation concepts and de Mesa’s pagbabalik-loob and cultural appreciation in examining Filipino male perceptions of pagkalalaki and maka-Diyos.
This study debunks popular misconceptions about the Filipino male’s lack of maka-Diyos. Men’s identity as Filipinos is not in danger due to lack of maka-Diyos and men reveal an understanding of maka-Diyos that informs national discourse. Men are active in regular religious activities. They see these concepts as important. They have a complex epistemological process that includes ancient, communal, revelatory, and empirical sources. This leads them to believe in and respond to the supernatural. They understand what their pagkalalaki means and how to express it, but concepts of religion and religiosity may or may not play a role in these beliefs. It also leads them to find solutions to the problems and challenges that they face in the world.
You can’t sign up anymore because the event is over, but you can watch the lecture here.
The “seen zone” is a way for virtual gatherings to approximate face-to-face gatherings.
Facebook has a feature on their messenger app that allows people to see if messages have been sent, received, and read. Simply by looking at the small circle under your message on the right side of the screen will tell you this. An empty circle means the message is sending, a clear blue circle with a checkmark means that the message has been sent to the Facebook server, a filled-in blue circle means the message has been delivered to the intended recipient, and a circle with a tiny profile pic means that your message has been seen by the intended recipient(s).
Maybe you haven’t even noticed these small circles but they do teach us an important lesson about gathering and community.
What is a simple and helpful tool takes on special meaning among certain demographics. Because, you see, what happens after a message has been seen is also important. If the message has been seen but there is no immediate reply forthcoming the sender is now in what is called the “seen zone.” Depending on the seriousness of the conversation this can either fill you with joy — ala “They saw my message” — to anger — ala “Why haven’t they replied yet?”
While this may be annoying — sometimes after all you want to remain anonymous — it is a way for virtual conversations to imitate face-to-face conversations more closely. After all, keeping a message in the “seen zone” is akin to not talking to someone in a face-to-face gathering. In either case, the social implications can be huge.
What aspects of virtual interaction make you feel more comfortable? Less comfortable? What make you feel like gathering has happened?
I was the foreman of a treeplanting crew in Northwestern Ontario. My boss, Ernie, was a hands-on guy who always took care of everything. We were camped at Lake of the Woods Houseboats just north of Sioux Lookout, ON, but were working in the bush about 30 minutes away. Ernie had just driven off in his truck. I climbed in the van to take the crew out to the bush but when I turned the key, nothing! I got on the radio to call Ernie back but for some reason couldn’t connect with him.
It was at that moment that I knew it for the first time: If I didn’t act then we wouldn’t be able to work today. It was a novel experience for me. Up until then I had relied upon others to get me through difficult times.
The key was that I had to make a decision to act. If I hadn’t done anything I am sure that Ernie would have figured things out, come back, and solved the problem.
The thing keeping me from acting was the unknown. What is wrong with the van? Will I be able to fix it? How long will this take? If I mess up will I get fired?
Once I moved beyond that into action I discovered that the problem was fairly easy to solve. The battery was dead (because I had left the lights on) and the owner of the place we were staying had a truck and booster cables. We had everything running in no time!
All in all it was a lot of worry over a very small problem. But it was still a problem that required me to act!
What problem are you facing? What fears are you overcoming? What action do you need to take in order to move forward?
Who knows? This might be your “the buck stops here” moment!